27 November 2012
Coffee is grown in about 70 countries around the world, so it's difficult to decide where the very best beans are produced.
Here Guy Eardley-Wilmot, Coffee Taster at Sea Island Coffee spills the beans and takes us on a quick voyage around some of the world's main coffee growing regions.
Central American coffees are generally light-bodied and relatively high in acidity. Countries such as Costa Rica started producing coffee in 1779 with a range of diverse taste profiles, vivid brightness and clean fruit notes.
Over in Mexico, coffee was brought into the country from the Antilles at the end of the 18th century. By 1980, Mexican coffee - with its light-bodied mild taste with delicate flavors - became an important export crop. By this time Mexico was the largest source of coffee for the USA
Pick of the Central American Beans
Geisha, grown on the Coffea Diversa plantation in Costa Rica, close to the Panamanian border, is an Ethiopian wild coffee variety with a soft, delicate profile and notes of lavender, cocoa and hints of molasses. The plantation is incredibly special as it grows the largest number of different coffee varieties in the world.
Moving further south, South American countries tend to have slightly heavier bodies than Central American coffees, somewhat less acidity, and more balanced overall taste.
If you are a coffee drinker, one of the first countries you will think of for producing some of the best coffee is Brazil, with its nutty, sweet, and low acidity levels. Brazil has maintained the top spot for producing some of the best coffee for more than 150 years.
In comparison, coffee from Colombia has its own identity, due to its high quality coffee beans.
Pick of the South American Beans
Jacu Bird, Brazil - The Camocim Estate in Brazil is inhabited by Jacu birds, which are herbivores and feast on coffee cherries. The coffee beans are then collected, cleaned and roasted (in the UK) resulting in a sweet, full-bodied coffee (more acidic than typically found in the region) with a smoothness and lack of bitterness.
Africa, the source of all coffees, boasts sweet, fruity, spicy, and exotic cup profiles with a vibrant aftertaste. Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee and it is the seventh largest coffee producer in the world, with half of the coffee produced by the country consumed domestically.
Pick of the African Beans
Lake Tana Monastery Islands, Ethiopia. Ethiopian Orthodox monks located on several islands Lake Tana grow Lake Tana Coffee. The coffee has an intense creamy body and distinct Mocca flavour with nuances of chocolate, malt and cherry.
Image credit: Pete Lewis Department for International Development
Across the ocean, Indonesian coffee has a long finish, full body, full flavor, and low acidity. Expect earthy flavors, with exotic aromas of spices, cheese, mushrooms, and herbs. About 90% of coffee produced here is cultivated by small lot farmers producing two major types of coffee beans: Coffea canephora and Coffea Arabica.
Pick of the Indonesian Beans
Sumatra Musang Kopi Luwak - Back in the 17th century all coffee produced in Sumatra was exported to Holland and the indigenous Sumatran people were left with no coffee for their own consumption. As a consequence they discovered that coffee from the droppings from Musang (Civets) was of superior quality and this is how the drinking of Kopi Luwak came about. The fermentation of the coffee beans while inside the civet cat creates a bold coffee with no bitterness and smooth long aftertaste.